Rhythm and Geometry – two subjects that do not have an overt relation to each other at first glance. However, the very structures of the fields are synonymously linked in their composition and construction through the medium of mathematics.
The exhibition pertains to ‘Constructivist Art in Britain since 1951’, highlighting the work and evolution of the Constructivist art movement, from its creation to the contemporary. The opening night greeted its audience with a lecture on Constructivism by exhibition co-creator, Tania Moore. The exhibition holds great synergy with the gallery’s current ‘Where We Live’ exhibition, in regard to building structures and the evolution of industrial and urban landscapes.
The original collection has been cared for since 1978 in the Sainsbury’s Centre at the University of East Anglia, but a bequest from Michael Morris in 2019 was the impetus for this gallery creation. The Constructivism movement began in Russia in the early 20th century by Tatlin and Rodchenko before Naum Gabo introduced the artistic genre to the UK. The movement became popularised through its reflections with contemporaneous architecture, such as the Camden Isokon Flats in 1937.
The exhibition features notable artists of ‘Robert Adams, Lygia Clark, Anthony Hill, Kenneth Martin, Mary Martin, François Morellet, Victor Pasmore, Takis, Mary Webb, Victor Vasarely, Gillian Wise and Li Yuan-Chia.’ Half of the artists selected in the curation were part of an informal group called ‘The Constructionists’ who started showcasing their work in the 1950s in London.
Reflecting on the Constructivist art movement, the designs are composed of rigid and angular lines alongside abstract examples of precision and symmetry within shapes such as squares, rectangles, and circles. Mostly primary and earthly-toned colours were presented to help highlight the shapes created but also not to distract the audience. I thought that a lot of the artwork could be perceived as very stereotypically masculine due to the nature of the measured structures and muted colours.
Interestingly, Tania Moore noted in the lecture that many female Constructivist artists had been misgendered in their work such as Nicole Charlett in her exhibit (Dis) Placements: Corner Locus, No.1 in 1989. It was refreshing to hear that so many women had entered masculine-perceived artistic spaces and movements, engendering more women to take up space in those artistic landscapes.
Having not previously researched or seen a lot of Constructivist artwork, I can happily say that I really enjoyed the exhibition, particularly learning about the history and communities that grew, shared, and travelled with the movement.
The exhibition is now open at the Djanogly Gallery at Lakeside Arts until the summer. Guided tours are available on the 22nd of June and the 13th of July.
If you are looking for a refreshing exhibition – Rhythm and Geometry provides exactly that!